Some Days

I’ve taken the time to work on me; I found the tools and rebuilt what was salvageable, fortified what was still standing: all while clearing away the rubble of the past.

Here and there, you’ll find a crack in the foundation, an oversight on my part: something I said I’d come back to later. Sometimes a leak will spring: usually something as minor as a dripping faucet, rarely a ruptured pipe.

Some days, I don’t notice the small imperfections awaiting my attention. I revel in the sturdiness of the frame around me: captivated by the exquisite architecture. I sit, contentedly, admiring the décor: the colors, the art. Some days, the flaws add character and charm; some days I love the quirks.

Yet, some days, I cannot stand seeing the places where the paint has chipped away, the scuffs and scratches on the floor from all the pacing and worry. Some days, the basement floods, the power goes out, and there’s a storm raging outside. On these days, it’s tempting to just take a sledgehammer to the walls and start over, rebuilding from the ground up.

But I’d lose all the integrity and stability that I worked so hard to attain. All the memories and nostalgia would end up fading like the early morning fog.

The content days out number the overwhelming ones; it isn’t worth it to sacrifice all the work and effort just to pursue the idea of perfection. Many things appear perfect from the outside. I may even appear perfect to someone looking from afar.

Just because you can’t see the cracks or don’t notice them doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. Someday, soon perhaps, I will find the time to finish repairing what I started. Before everything crumbles again.

I Am Enough

This post makes me anxious. Every post before this one has made me anxious. Are people even going to read what I write? Does anyone even care what I have to say? What if I post this and my peers judge me or just dismiss my thoughts and feelings entirely? This post is going to be my most personal and vulnerable yet, so buckle up and please know that I’m still working through this myself.

Something that almost no one knows about me is that, back in the fall of 2016, I was officially diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder coupled with a pretty severe case of social anxiety disorder. It’s not something I talk about; I’ve never even told anyone that I saw a psychologist. Now, I’m not ashamed that I sought treatment. On the contrary! I’m proud of myself for actually taking the time to work on my mental health.

So, why haven’t I talked about it, been open, worked toward ending the stigma? Three reasons: the things I’m struggling with are no one else’s business, this realization and diagnosis came at an especially stressful time in my life, and, quite frankly, I just wasn’t ready to talk about it openly before.

One thing that I don’t understand about society today is why everyone has to be in each other’s business ALL THE TIME. I know, with absolute certainty, that a great deal of people wouldn’t have believed that I have anxiety if I had been open about it from the beginning (Some people still won’t believe it.). Around the same time that I sought help, I had several friends mention something along the lines of, “Why does everyone have anxiety these days? They didn’t have anxiety in high school!” Statements and conversations like this are part of the reason I’ve kept this to myself for over 2 years; I didn’t want people to be saying those types of things behind my back. Even though, I can guarantee that I 100% did have anxiety back in school. I’ve struggled with anxious tendencies and nervous ticks for as long as I can remember.

When I first realized that I was struggling harder than usual, I had just moved away from home for the first time, started a new school, and was living in a very toxic environment for my mental health.

I didn’t move out of my mom’s house until I was 20, and when I did move out, it was fairly abrupt. I had originally been planning on moving early to mid-August. Due to unforeseen circumstances, I ended up moving over a month earlier than anticipated. Within a week, I had packed, moved, and transferred to the Salt Lake branch of my workplace. Suddenly, I found myself in an unfamiliar home in an unfamiliar city surrounded by unfamiliar people.

A friend’s family had agreed to let me live with them while I was attending classes at the University of Utah. At the time, I was planning on majoring in history with a minor in politics. I eventually wanted to go on to attend law school (lol). Once August came around, I officially started classes. Unfortunately, I immediately got sick with my first ever case of the stomach flu and missed the entire second week of classes, setting me pretty far behind and causing immense strain on my academics. I also learned, the hard way of course, that my American history professor didn’t allow students into their class late. If you were even a minute late to the lecture, the doors would be locked. As someone who used public transportation to get to and from campus, it was nearly impossible to arrive on time if I missed the train after work. Not to mention the campus was more than three times the size of the local university I had previously attended.

To say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement.

Topping off this stressful situation, the family I was staying with were… unwelcoming. The only place I felt even close to comfortable in the house was in “my room,” but even that never felt like my own space. I was just borrowing that room from them, after all. This ended up causing me to isolate myself in that room, and I was more unhappy than I had ever been before.

ANYWAY: I ended up having an anxiety attack in my American sign language class in early September. So, I made an appointment with the free counseling center at the university. In total, I ended up going to one appointment per month for the duration of my time attending the U of U. Those hour long sessions with the most wonderful psychologist were 100% what I needed to get my mental health in check. My eyes were definitely opened to the indicators of my own anxiety.

Some of my nervous ticks include: hand fidgeting, scratching, jaw clenching (this one is happening as I write), finger chewing… Thankfully, therapy taught me healthy coping mechanisms like breathing exercises and mindfulness. So far, these techniques have been working for me and I’m a lot more confident and comfortable being who I am. Therapy also helped me decide that I needed a break from school and that I wanted to move back to my home town, which I will be forever grateful for.

Anxiety definitely prevents me from doing a lot of things at times, especially when strangers or general acquaintances are involved. I rarely start conversations, have difficulty going new places alone, and don’t often try new things. However, since learning how to deal with these disorders, I’ve been able to narrow down the issues and work through a lot of situations. The one I still struggle with the most is starting conversations with people I want to talk to. Do they want to hear from me? What if I’m annoying them?

I’ve been “awkward” my whole life, and finally having a name for the way I am definitely helped me understand why I am the way I am. Does that make me any less anxious and awkward? Not really. But does that mean there’s room for improvement? Absolutely. I don’t think I’ll ever be anxiety free, but I can ensure that I don’t let it control my life. I am enough, just the way I am.

Vibrate Love

In the world we live in, it is soo easy to drown in the bad and the stressful things going on around us. Sometimes, we need a lifeguard to dive in and rescue us, and then take a breath. Just breathe and take a moment to think about the positives in your life that you didn’t notice through your tunnel vision.

Between the busyness of my day-to-day life and my professional life, it has been easy to fall into a negative mindset. Something minor goes wrong like not getting a text back from someone? Wow, something must be wrong with me; I’m obviously not good enough or pretty enough or smart enough. Got stood up not once, but twice? Might as well just carve the whole muscle out of my chest.

But somehow, for some reason, I keep letting people into my heart only to end up being hurt. Over and over. Constantly. Continuously.

I’ve been ignored and forgotten about, but I’m the type of person who will forgive you despite your bogus excuses. Oh, you got your arm stuck in the blood pressure machine at the grocery store? That’s fiiiiiine, no worries! Time and again: screw me over 19 times? *I* will apologize to *you* for not trying hard enough or for not wanting to bother you.

And no matter how irritated and sick of these games and the disappointments that I get, I refuse to let the world shred my hope. People will never make me callused and hard. This life we live needs more people who are open and kind. There is already too much bitterness and pain in existence, and we shouldn’t be contributing to the hate and anger. We should open ourselves up and be receptive to the positivity and sweetness that some are radiating.

This life is too short and our time here not guaranteed. So push through the hurt and the sorrow. For there has to be a light at the end of the dark, musty tunnel.

Lessons Learned

Dear Dad,

It has officially been 8 years since you last hugged me. 8 years since you told me to have a good day at school and that you loved me. 8 years full of questions without answers.

I know you were sick and struggling with a lot of things, and I also know you thought what you were doing was right and best for everyone. But you were wrong. You choosing to end your life was the worst thing for all of us.

You’ve already missed so many things. You never got to see any of your kids get their drivers licenses, graduate, or get married. You’ll miss out on your children-in-law, grandkids, and grand-dogs. You weren’t here to disapprove of my first tattoo… or my second, third, or fourth (2 of them are in your honor). You weren’t even there to dance with me or my sister at our junior proms. You’ve missed so much already, and there will only be more.

For at least the first few years, I blamed you. I’m not proud to admit that, but it’s true. I didn’t understand why or how you could leave your wife and 4 kids without any warning or explanation. We all had to grow up and adjust way too quickly — the instant we heard what had happened.

Now I understand that it wasn’t you who made that irreversible choice; it was the various disorders you were trying to deal with alone, going untreated. The alcoholism, insomnia, undiagnosed anxiety, and apparent depression. I wish every day that you had gotten help, that you were still around to shoot the breeze with, but losing you also taught me some valuable lessons.

I learned to be cautious around and weary of alcohol, often times being the designated driver. I didn’t even drink at all until after I was 21 and could legally do so. I learned to deal with my feelings when I’m anxious and talk about it instead of internalizing. And the most important thing I learned was that, no matter what’s going on in my life, no matter the circumstances, if I’m ever feeling overwhelmed and like there’s only 1 way out, I will seek help.

I’ve never felt the way you must have, and I hope I never do, but I also refuse to ever be the reason that another person would feel the way I was feeling for so many years.

Every day I miss you. I miss our talks when you would drive me home from school, the debates we would get into about current events and politics. I miss your smile and your goofy personality. I miss having someone to hug every single day, and I even miss that damn Cryptkeeper mask you would scare us with every chance you got.

I just wish you were still here.

Miss you and love you.

Always.

The “Happiest” Place on Earth

Let me first preface this post by explaining that I do not have fond memories from my first visit to Disneyland/California Adventure Park. The summer between my freshman and sophomore years of high school, I took a week-long trip to California with my dance company. Unfortunately, no one else from my actual class chose to go on this trip. I ended up having to room/spend the week with 3 girls that I barely knew and did not get along with. They were all friends with each other, so whatever they agreed upon doing/riding is what we ended up doing.

We spent all of the last 2 days of the trip at Disneyland/California Adventure Park. Following their every whim was exhausting, and I was miserable. So my feelings about Disneyland were relatively negative after this experience.

ANYWAY! Back in January, I took my second trip to Disneyland/California Adventure Park. This experience was much better than the original; however, by the end of the first day, I was already done and ready to go home. It’s not that the company was bad or the park wasn’t fun, but I just don’t think it’s worth the money, distance, time, and effort to deal with crowds, lines, wait times, and having to pay even more money.

I think we only rode an average of 6-8 rides per day the whole 2-and-a-half days we were there (there are over 60 rides and attractions at Disneyland and 34 at California Adventure Park!). Which means we rode, at most, 1/4 of the total rides in the parks.

I will say that they have excellent coffee, croissants, and soft pretzels though. The pretzels almost make up for everything else, almost. I read a quote by Paul Beatty a while ago that really resonated with me. He said, “If Disneyland was indeed the Happiest Place on Earth, you’d either keep it a secret or the price of admission would be free.”

I whole-heartedly agree with this quote because I know for a fact that the Happiest Place on Earth is at home, in my cozy apartment, cuddled up with my pup after a long day.

Past Ambitions

So, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, but I haven’t been entirely slacking. I have actually written/started 6 other posts that are just saved as drafts right now.

I have LOVED writing since the third grade when we learned to write poems. I was by no means good at poetry, but that didn’t stop me from writing the required poem and 3 extra-credit poems. Since I was already in love with reading, my 9-year-old mind was made up that I was going to be an author when I grew up.

In 2006, when I was 11, I submitted my first story to a writing website that I was a part of. A poem called, “Santa’s Reindeer,” was my first cringe worthy publication:

When Santa goes flying with his sleigh,

Who does he trust to lead the way?

His nine noble reindeer,

Have been waiting all year.

He calls them by name,

Just like it’s a game.

First Dasher and Dancer, Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid, Donner and Blitzen, and the most famous reindeer of all: Rudolph.

Rudolph leads the others,

They are all just like brothers.

The reindeer  are the reason we have presents on Christmas day,

They don’t complain even in May.

That’s who Santa trusts to fly his sleigh!

Over the next 6 years, I submitted 10 more stories and poems to this same group. And in the six years since my last submission, I have only let one person read these atrocities. Only the last two submissions were even close to good.

Since 2012, I haven’t really written anything other than essays for school and the posts on this blog. It’s always in the back of my mind though, and I often wonder if I am wasting my potential for personal growth through composition of creative ideas.

Maybe one day I’ll get back into writing creatively, but, until then, I will try to write (and post) more on here!